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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Cold Water Can Kill in Minutes

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

July 5, 2023

Source: MAIB

Source: MAIB

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has highlighted that, on average, crew have under 11 minutes to recover someone who has fallen overboard into cold water before they become unresponsive.

An analysis of 20 accidents that occurred between 2017 and 2021 shows that the time decreases as the water becomes colder or the sea state rougher. In some cases, crew had just four or five minutes to coordinate a complex recovery.

When examining the rate of successful recoveries, MAIB found that of the 308 man overboard occurrences reported between 2015 and 2023, 40% led to a fatality.

Almost half (47%) of the occurrences reported to MAIB from pleasure craft resulted in a fatality, and 56% from fishing industry resulted in a fatality.

Of the 20 man overboard incidents from cargo vessels, six resulted in the loss of a crew member. Inland waterways saw six fatalities from 24 incidents, and passenger ships eight incidents resulting in one fatality. For service ships, the rate of recovery was the best in the industry with 85% successful.

To launch Maritime Safety Week 2023, Maritime Minister Baroness Vere joined the MAIB and Royal Yachting Association (RYA) at a special demonstration to raise industry awareness of the challenges of man overboard recovery.

Held at Westminster Boating Base on the River Thames, the Met Police Marine Police Unit gave a live demonstration of the techniques that crew need to deploy to recover an incapacitated person from the water from a high sided vessel without specialist equipment.

RYA Chief Instructor Vaughan Marsh spoke of the importance of training, preparation and practice. He also highlighted the different challenges depending on type of vessel or sea condition. A crew transfer vessel provided by Offshore Turbine Services was on hand to display the variety of solutions available in the commercial sector to make man overboard lifting easier.

In addition, representatives from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) and British Marine participated in a discussion of the challenges.

Andrew Moll, Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents, said: “Man overboard recovery can be exceptionally challenging at the best of times, but the recovery becomes much harder if the casualty is unconscious or unresponsive. Our data paints a truly shocking picture of just how little time a crew can have before cold water incapacitation renders a casualty unable to assist in their own rescue. It is essential that boat users - regardless of the sector - think carefully about how they would recover a crew member on their vessel.”

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